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Hanging Nasturtiums Courtyard Display Returns

The Gardner Museum will once again display hanging nasturtiums this April. The vibrant orange nasturtium vines have been a popular courtyard display since Isabella Stewart Gardner annually exhibited the flowers during her lifetime. This year, the Museum will begin its display on March 27, 2013.

“The annual Hanging Nasturtiums herald the start of spring in the city,” said Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Anne Hawley. “We are excited to welcome visitors to marvel at this horticultural feat.”

This April, the Museum’s central courtyard will be filled with flowers and plants including fragrant hyacinths and several types of daffodils. Dark blue cineraria, orchids, pale yellow azaleas, and orange- and lemon-flowered Clivia miniata will be shown against a background of green. The large, orange Clivia miniata that will be part of the display have been in the Gardner Museum collection for over forty years; the yellow-flowered specimens originally came from the nursery collection of well-known landscape designer Allen Haskell in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The tradition of hanging nasturtiums in the Courtyard began during Isabella Stewart Gardner’s lifetime. She often hung the plants to coincide with the opening of the Museum the week before the Easter holiday. Nasturtium vines (Tropaeolum majus) are grown from seeds sown in late summer and are intensively cultivated in the Gardner Museum greenhouses through the winter in preparation for the spring display.

In addition to the courtyard display of nasturtiums, Café G also highlights the edible flower on their menu each spring with seasonal menu items with an elegant floral punctuation.

“The historic collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum plays an important role in inspiring and invigorating every part of the Museum. This is no different in Café G,” said owner and chef Peter Crowley.

Although commonly used as a garnish or additional color for a salad; the nasturtium has a mild but peppery taste which can be used in a wide range of dishes. This year, Crowley said the menu will focus on Spring-inspired dishes with a twist including a beet salad with horseradish and nasturtium petals, as well as a roasted salmon with lemon gnocchi and nasturtium pesto.

Café G is open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and remains open until 9 p.m. on Thursday. To view a full menu, visit Café G online. To make a reservation, please call 617 566 1088.

The Hanging Nasturtiums Courtyard display is made possible in part by the Museum’s Sorenson Fund for Horticulture. Photo: Siena Scarff, 2012.